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had nothing to expect from the tribunal before which they were arraigned, have appealed from the sentence of their judges, to the verdict of posterity. There is something touching in the idea. It proceeds on the conviction, that the justice which is withheld from living, is often readily conceded to departed worth. A still sublimer idea was conveyed by the action of Stepben. His appeal was to the verdict of heaven. As if he had said, “ My record, is on high.” It is in the cause of an ascended Redeemer that I suffer. To him I look; on his support I depend; and his recompense I expect at the resurrection of the just.”

“ He looked steadfastly into heaven.” To look on the heavens, merely as they appear to the eye of sense, is elevating—so elevating indeed, that one has said, in reference to this and kindred subjects of meditation, “ Oh! bow can ye renounce them, and be blessed ?"

Without unqualifiedly adopting this language, we are quite within the bounds of sober statement, wben we say, that the man who endeavours to disparage these topics of contemplation, forgets the place which they occupied in the devotional exercises of inspired men, and would debar the Christian from a source of pleasing, profitable, and religious thought. The azure curtains of the sky, the splendid circumference of shining orbs, the sun

rejoicing to run his race," the moon pursuing her less dazzling, but not less majestic course, are objects which raise the mind from “ Nature to Nature's God.”


“ These are thy glorious works, Parent of good !

Almighty, thine this universal frame,
Thus wondrous fair, thyself how wondrous then !"

But if it is thus elevating to look to the exterior appearances of the visible heavens, how much more, with Stephen, to pierce within!-to contemplate the dread magnificence of the inner temple-to view the graduated orders of the angelic host--and the multitudinous throng of ransomed


spirits—to listen to the anthem always sung, but ever new, which rises before the throne of God, and of the Lamb!



III. Let us consider the attestation of the divine approbation which Stephen received. “He saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God!”

The confidence which is put in men, is often misplaced ; and we are disappointed at the time when assistance is most necessary. Our Lord had himself experienced this fickle

Never was his human nature so dependent, if I may so express myself, on the sympathies of an earthly friendship, as at the time when, in his own language, “his hour was come,”—the hour when man's redemption was to be consummated, and when the burden of a world's iniquities was to press on his soul. In so far as professions were to be regarded, these sympathies might have been expected. None requires to be told that these professions were not verified by the conduct ;—not by Peter, by him who had affirmed that he was ready to go with bim both into prison, and to death;"—not by the other apostles, who, having less of the spirit of self-confidence, might have been supposed to have more unshrinking firmness; for in the hour of trial all deserted him. The conduct of the master, was the reverse of that of the disciples. At the same tribunal where he had stood, Stephen was now arraigned. From that place the enemies of Stephen could, and did exclude the sympathies which might have been shown by the Christian brotherhood ; but they could not, with all the power with which they were invested—the swords and staves of the band of the templeintercept the tokens of a higher regard. For his own encouragement, as well as for the encouragement of those who might afterwards be called to a like conflict, he was honoured by an especial mark of the divine approbation—the Redeemer thereby intimating, that, though he might leave his faithful servants in the hands of their enemies, as respected

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their bodies, that he would supply them with consolations, to support their souls. “ He saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.”

God, in the essential glory of bis nature, is invisible. What is said to be seen, when Deity is spoken of, is the luminous appearance or symbol of his presence, by which, while the first temple stood, he dwelt between the cherubim, and by which, on special occasions, and with a view to important purposes, he manifested himself to particular per

The recorded examples of these manifestations are too numerous for citation. Among the more remarkable are those at the bush in Horeb;

;-on the night of the nativity, in the plains of Bethlehem;—and in the bright cloud which overshadowed the disciples on the mount of transfiguration. Of the same nature was the vision mentioned in the text. Stephen saw that glory which was the symbol of the divine presence.

In most instances where this manifestation took place, there was some personal appearance. In one of the instances to which I have referred, angels appeared, and in the other, Moses and Elias. In the case we are considering, there was likewise a personal appearance of a most distinguished kind. The Lord Jesus himself was seen by Stephen in a form, which was at once calculated to impress the spectator both with his dignity and with his condescension. He saw him at “ the right hand of God." As the divine nature is purely incorporeal, God baving neither a right hand nor a left, the phraseology here employed, is evidently figurative. This indeed is the character of language generally, and necessarily so of that which describes the subjects of religion. Among men, "the right hand " is the place of honour. In reference to this usage, and in accommodation to our conceptions, in describing the mediatorial glory to which the Redeemer is now exalted, he is represented as being placed at the right hand of God. If, at the period to which the text refers, events


seemed inauspicious to the church; if the Synagogue disputants were permitted to effect by force, what in all the plenitude of their self-presumption, they could not effect by argument;—if a secularised priesthood was permitted to desecrate that holy function, by assisting at a sacrifice which would have been worthy of Moloch's shrine ;-if the Sanhedrim were permitted to exert their little brief authority, in a way which makes angels weep;—if a mindless, fickle populace, the dupes of those who were serving no other interest but their own, were permitted to join their voice in the cry for blood,—ascribe it not to any want of power in Jesus to have prevented it; ascribe it rather to the wise, though to us inscrutable purposes

of heaven. Jesus is no longer “the man of sorrows.” He no longer travels from village to village, the companion of men of like passions with us, and the scorn of those whose salvation he sought.

“ He who on earth as man was known,

The God of nature reigns.”


Could these mortal eyes penetrate within the veil, you

would see what Stephen saw—that same Jesus who was numbered with transgressers, placed at the right hand of God.

But if the form in which he appeared was descriptive of his dignity, it was not less descriptive of his condescension. In other parts of Scripture, where his celestial glory is referred to, he is represented as sitting at the right hand of God," , to denote that he has taken possession of his heavenly kingdom, and become the sovereiga administrator of all things. But in the present case, as if to signify the deep interest be took in the situation of his suffering servant, and his readiness to support and receive him, he appears in a standing attitude. This representation is highly consolitary to the saints. A Cesar may be poniarded for his ambition, and one as ambitious, though less talented and generous, may succeed in bis

A Nero, and a Caligula, and a Domitian, and a Tiberius, and others of like imperial quality, may be born, and may reign, and may die, and He who is at the head of “ principalities and powers," may see it unmoved. Kingdoms may be conquered, and ancient dynasties subverted, and he may regard it with the same feelings with which the mariner regards the slight foam which appears and disappears on the ocean's surface. It is when the welfare of a disciple is in jeopardy, it is when one suffers, whom the world despises, but of whom the world is not worthy, that the Sovereign of the universe rises from his throne.


It might have seemed to some, that the attitude indicated an intention to save him. Such, to human apprehension would have appeared to be the course which the Redeemer would have adopted. The earth, as in the days of Korah, would have opened under them, and the Sanhedrim and their ungodly satellites, with all their unrepented sins on their heads, would have “gone down alive into the pit.” But such was not the determination of heaven. The disciples were to be left to struggle with difficulties. Christianity was nursed in clouds, and cradled in the storm. Instead of the patronage of princes, it did not even enjoy their protection. For nearly three centuries, and these not the least illustrious in the church's annals, it could only be tracked in blood, and in the light of the flames which were kindled by her persecuters. We require, indeed, no other evidence than that furnished by the history of the first martyr to convince us, that the religion which has Jesus for its author, can be maintained not only in the absence of court favour, but when deprived of the best and most gifted of its advocates. Out of the circle of the apostles, if indeed this exception be required, there was no individual whose removal appeared so likely to injure the interests of the infant church as that of Stephen. But the event, though for a time it clouded the prospects of the faithful, was no permanent impediment. Christianity continued to extend and prosper.

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